Category Archives: Religion/Atheism
I recently shared a photo from a Facebook page called Islam vs Atheism (intelligent discussion).
“Real Men Don’t Rape. Real Women Don’t Wear Revealing Clothes.”
So I posted a quick, tweet sized response to it on my page where I said, “Real women wear whatever they want and should not be slut-shamed and then blamed for being raped.”
I was confused as to why a page that is supposedly about discussion between Muslims and atheists was posting something that didn’t really seem to be promoting discussion and instead having inflammatory, misogynistic, and sex-negative statements.
Then I started looking at their page and realised that they don’t really promote discussion at all. It just seems to be a page about promoting Islam and bashing atheists, secularism, and the West.
I also looked at the very long description that is given to the photo by the page after I posted my response.
Just skimming it for five seconds made me realise that this was just another post that was promoting Islam. More so, this post was bashing Western society and blaming them for the high rates of rape and other sexual abuse that happens in the West.
They start off by asking the question, “Why is Sexual Abuse so Rampant in Western societies?”
When you look at just the numbers, countries like Sweden and Australia have some of the highest rates of rape in the world and almost top the charts for the Western world, while countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa have almost nonexistent rape statistics.
When you look at the various reasons as to why, then it starts to make sense. According to the Times of India, “[The] definition of rape differs from country to country and that, coupled with how well the crime is reported and recorded, determines what the numbers are finally going to look like.”
In certain countries in the Middle East, a woman being raped may not be considered rape and instead as premarital sex, which they will eventually be imprisoned for. And because of this, women in these countries will probably avoid reporting their rapes for fear of being imprisoned, beaten, lashed, or even executed.
There is no universal standard that countries use for classifying and reporting rape. It is all completely subjective based on the country and culture. What may be considered rape in Europe may not be considered rape in the Middle East or even in the United States.
Then there is the issue of under reporting rape in the first place. As touched on just a second ago, women in the Middle East are hardly ever going to report being raped, and if they do, then it probably is not considered rape by the police.
In the United States and Europe, it is taken more seriously and more is done about it. Women are very afraid to report their rapes even there (then there is the issue of men being raped and hardly ever reporting that), but countries that don’t imprison women for being raped are probably going to report rape cases more.
Now that I’ve addressed that. Let’s move onto their actual arguments.
(1) The secular, liberal way of life defines the purpose of life as pursuing the maximum enjoyments of the here and now and living life to the max. Happiness is therefore viewed as fulfilling sensual pleasures and actions are decided based upon the desires of individuals.
No. It does not define the purpose of life that way. Secularism does not define the purpose of life. Even secular humanism does not give a purpose or meaning to life. It gives us goals and morals, but not a purpose.
Consequently, personal whims become the basis of deciding right, and wrong.
No, they aren’t.
Essentially this means that every individual in society is free to dress and pursue any relationship they wish and decide for themselves how to satisfy their sexual instinct in whatever way is pleasurable to them.
While I disagree with the premises you are using to come to this conclusion, I essentially agree with this particular point. Every individual should be free to dress however they want and pursue any relationship they want, as long as everyone is consenting.
Anyone reading this for the first time should be able to easily see where you are going with this. That because “personal whims” are how we decide right and wrong and that we are free to satisfy our sexual instincts, then people should be free to rape by the strawman of secular liberalism that you have erected.
Securing liberal freedoms such as personal and sexual freedom is therefore set as the priority of liberal societies up and above family and community wellbeing. All this nurtures a dangerous environment within society.
You are right. This kind of mentality would nurture a dangerous environment within society, but your argument is simply a strawman and not an accurate representation of “secular, liberal,” which is a strawman term in it of itself.
(2) This harmful view towards the satisfaction of the sexual instinct has ramifications on society. Open relationships, promiscuity, and the sexualisation of men and women in advertisement, films, TV, music, magazines, books, pornography, and the beauty industry has become the norm in the UK and other secular liberal states.
I’m in an open relationship, more so polyamorous. I don’t think that me having two partners has caused any harm for society.
Promiscuity is not causing harm to society. Having unsafe sex, with anyone, can cause problems with the possible spread of STDs. Hence why I emphasised unsafe sex. If we taught people about their bodies and how to protect themselves, then that would not be a problem.
Even children have been sexualised – their clothes, music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, and even the computer games and toys they play with have become increasingly sexually provocative.
I actually agree. That is wrong. The sexualisation of children is wrong.
That would also make the burka wrong. It is sexualising girls by saying that everything they do in public is sexual and shameful, therefore they must be covered head to toe.
(3) Within such a society where the sexual instinct is constantly urged and triggered, and the mindset of satisfying desires dominates over the mindset of doing what is right, it is inevitable that many men and women will seek to fulfil their sexual desires in any manner they see fit and through whatever means that is available to them if they feel that they can get away with it, even if that means abusing children, or vulnerable young girls and women.
That was just one sentence.
No, “…the mindset of satisfying desires…” does not dominate over doing what is right. Where are you getting this? Oh, that’s right. Your strawman premises.
As I predicted, you’re saying that because in Western society we are so open about our sexuality, are okay with people being sexual and expressing their sexuality, and don’t punish people for it, sometimes with death, then that will lead to raping people.
(4) In addition, under the Capitalist system as implemented in the UK, US, and most secular liberal states, the pursuit of profit reigns supreme.
I agree with that. I don’t think this has anything to do with rape or sexual abuse, but in a capitalist system the underlying point is to solely make the most money.
Consequently businesses are permitted to encourage the sexualisation of society in order to increase sales, regardless of the detrimental impact on individuals and society. For example, although David Cameron has talked a lot about the harmful effects of the sexualisation of children, the UK government has not banned the sexualisation of children’s clothes or entertainment, choosing to secure profit over the welfare of children. And despite 1 in 5 women being victims of a sexual offence in the UK, there has been no ban on the exploitation, objectification, and sexualisation of women in advertisement and the media that devalues their status and hence exacerbates sexual crimes against them, for capitalism places financial gain over protecting the dignity of women. Indeed, it is the degrading of women and girls for profit that creates an environment that is ripe for the exploitation of children, girls and women in trafficking, prostitution and grooming rings.
Models, advertisements, actors, etc. have nothing to do with rape. Nothing. Yes, the capitalist system may increase the objectification of women, but it does not lead to rape.
Rape is not about sex in the first place. Rape is about power. It is about controlling and dominating the victim. That is what it’s about, so you’re premises are strawmen, and your conclusions are complete horseshit.
So yes, real men don’t rape, but again, real women wear whatever they want, even if that be nothing at all. and should not be slut-shamed for wearing what they want and controlling their own bodies and then blamed if that control is taken away from them by a rapist.
In a recent post of mine, I talked about and rebuked an excerpt from Frans de Waal’s new book, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, that was published in Salon.
His book is, to say the least, infuriating. That is to say, when he talks about what he likes to call the “neo-atheists,” he stereotypes us and employs the same kinds of misconceptions and arguments that theists use, and he himself is an atheist.
For example, he says at one point in his book (emphasis mine), “Why are the “neo-atheists” of today so obsessed with God’s nonexistence that they go on media rampages, wear T-shirts proclaiming their absence of belief, or call for a militant atheism? What does atheism have to offer that’s worth fighting for? As one philosopher put it, being a militant atheist is like “sleeping furiously.”
Seriously, read that excerpt. He likes to pick on and bash the late Christopher Hitchens a bit in it. The link is available through my blog post linked above. Be sure to read my post about it too.
Anyway. De Waal made an appearance on my local public radio station, 90.1 KERA, to talk about his new book. When I found this out, I was actually kind of pissed.
To me personally, it’s the equivalent of having Deepak Chopra show up in town to peddle his quantum spirituality bullshit. Speaking of which, Chopra will be in Dallas at the end of the month. I’m not trying to compare de Waal to Chopra. I just wanted to jab at Chopra mostly.
Let it be made clear, when de Waal appeared on Think, the the interview was actually very interesting. He actually is a very intelligent biologist and primatologist, and he knows his science and the comparisons that can be made between humans and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee and bonobo, when it comes to morality.
Then he started drifting into the atheist part of his book very briefly in the middle of the interview.
[33:33 - 33:41]
I don’t agree with the neo-atheists who have been bashing religion as universally bad.
No one is bashing religion as universally bad, Frans. You’re erecting a strawman right there.
Most of today’s atheists, the so-called “neo-atheists” to use your term, would agree with you when you say in your book, “I consider dogmatism a far greater threat than religion per se.”
Dogma is the problem, but dogma and religion are almost synonymous in our time. The most dogmatic of beliefs are, 99% of the time, religious in nature. Yes, political ideologies, such as communism or fascism, can be dogmatic too. No one denies that, except maybe your strawman.
[33:41 - 33:50]
If all human societies believe in the supernatural and all human societies have some form of religion, it must be doing something for us.
Let me tackle the first half of that statement first.
No. Not every human society has religion or the supernatural. My favourite example of this is that of the Pirahã tribe in the Amazon. When confronted with Christian missionaries, they laughed at them for believing in something for which they could not see or prove and trying to make them believe in it too. They had no gods, no religion, and no superstitions, and they were perfectly happy and moral.
Now onto the latter half of that sentence. “…it must be doing something for us.”
According to a piece in the Pacific Standard, “It’s clear that religious faith confers a variety of benefits. Being part of a community of fellow believers has been shown to boost both mental and physical health.”
That same article goes on to say, “Thoughts of faith and God apparently spur people to view the world in black-or-white terms. A just-published study finds exposure to Christian concepts or imagery increases one’s intolerance for ambiguity.”
That’s something religion does: gives us an intolerance of gray areas and ambiguity, and as we have seen in the past, thinking in black and whites can be dangerous.
Not only does religion do that for us, but it also gave us the Crusades (my favourite of them being the Children’s Crusade), Holocaust, Witch Hunts, Inquisition, justification for American slavery, justification for oppression of women, justification for oppression of the LGBT community, 9/11, 7/7, Darfur, parents refusing their children medical care because their beliefs prohibit it and instead letting them die as they prayed over them, children refusing medical care for themselves and letting themselves die because their parents forced those same beliefs onto them, and much much more. I could go on, but I hope my point has been made.
Religion gives us (false) comfort and hope when we are weak. Religion gives us (false) answers when we refuse to figure it out or simply want answers now. Religion gives us wars, genocides, infanticide, homophobia, sexism, and hope of a better tomorrow if we ignore the present. That’s what religions does for us.
For the rest of the interview, he never mentions other atheists. Which is good. I’m glad he didn’t take this time to bash atheists and instead stuck to the science and origin of morality.
Then this happened in the last two minutes of the show when Krys Boyd, the show’s host, asked him a particularly weird question.
[46:49 - 46:55]
Do you find that there are other atheists that are bothered by your openness to the existence of religion in the world?
No atheist is bothered by de Waal’s “openness to the existence of religion.” No atheist is bothered by the existence of religion in the way you think they are. Religion and mythology are fascinating really, and the study of religion is a hobby of mine. David G. McAfee got his degree in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
We’re not offended by religion. We’re offended, if that is the appropriate word, by what we see done in the name of religion: Holocaust, Crusades, oppression of women and gays, infanticide, martyrdom, retardation of societal and scientific progress, etc. etc. Everyone should be offended by that, religious or not.
We might be bothered if de Waal makes excuses for those atrocities committed by the religious in the name of religion, especially since he is a scientist. He does seem to do that in his book.
He says at one point in the book:
The connection between science and religion has always been complex, including both conflict, mutual respect, and the church’s patronage of the sciences. The first copiers of books on which science came to rely were rabbis and monks, and the first universities grew out of cathedral and monastic schools. The papacy actively promoted the establishment and proliferation of universities. At one of the first ones, in Paris, students cut their hair in tonsure to show allegiance to the church, and the oldest document in the archives of Oxford University is its Award of the Papal Legate of 1214. Given this intertwinement, most historians stress dialogue or even integration between science and religion.
He’s either ignorant of history or purposely appeasing the religious by making it seem like religion and science can get along.
Nonetheless, let’s look at de Waal’s response to this question (emphasis mine).
[46:58 - 47:26]
The book has gotten more criticism from atheists than from believers, even though I come down on the side saying morality is not produced by religion. It’s the neo-atheists that are very upset, because I ask them to stop shouting and to calm down a little, because I believe that the question of why we are on Earth and what to do with our life and why would we want to be moral, those are important questions that are not answered by saying that God exists or doesn’t exist.
If you want to know why we’re shouting, why we can’t be calm, why we’re angry, look at the world, de Waal. You refusing to see the harms that religion causes does not make them go away. You refusing to see them and to do anything about them does not make us these belligerent, intolerant people that you paint us as.
What de Waal is doing with his book is giving ammo to the religious who think atheists are all close-minded, hateful people who want to destroy religion and persecute the religious. He, an atheist, is feeding the stereotypes of atheists. But I guess he’s an atheist, and we’re the “neo-atheists,” who are so dogmatic in our non-belief in a god. We’re “sleeping furiously.”
With the ouster of Steven Miller, the now former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), by President Obama due to the recently uncovered scandal where the IRS was specifically targeting and applying extra scrutiny to conservative and ultra-nationalist groups, such as the Tea Party, when they applied for a tax-exempt status, it’s important to focus on who this “new leadership” that President Obama called for in a statement delivered from the White House’s East Room.
Being the optimist and idealist that I am, I would hope that President Obama would find someone to lead the IRS that will finally go after churches that purposely break their tax-exempt status by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office. Just in case people didn’t know, that’s illegal.
Knowing Washington politics the way I do though, the new commissioner will probably be someone within the Democratic Party or average bureaucrat already within the IRS that no one knows about – I didn’t know the name Steven Miller before this whole thing happened – or has never ever paid any attention to who will continue to do nothing about this clear violation of the law, because appeasing the religious is more important to this administration and every administration before it than the law.
If churches want to play the game of politics, then they have to pay like everyone else. If the Secular Student Alliance, Center for Inquiry, American Atheists, or other secular and atheist organisations wanted to endorse a candidate, I’m sure the IRS would have no problem in taking away their tax-exempt status.
That’s the thing. Christianity is given greater status under the law, not equal status, as the laws says it should have. Christianity is given a pass or excuses are made when it breaks the law or when a Christian does something wrong, but when atheists commit the same crimes or it is said that atrocities were committed “in the name of atheism,” then that’s proof that atheism is a terrible “ideology” and atheists are terrible people.
President Obama: make sure the “new leadership” is someone who will follow the law and not allow for the inequality that has been rampant throughout the American tax code by allowing certain organisations to break the law. I don’t think I need to mention it, but churches should also be taxed.
Truth in Action Ministries tries to cover up lies of high school athlete disqualified for ‘act of faith’
An update to a story that I reported on a few days ago.
A few weeks back, Derrick Hayes, a Texas high school track member, was allegedly disqualified from a relay race, along with his entire team, for raising his arm to the sky, supposedly pointing towards and thanking God, as he was crossing the finish line and winning the race with a new record for UIL track competitions.
The Christian right took this as further proof of anti-Christian discrimination in the American public school system. Governor Rick Perry himself demanded an investigation into the incident. One of the organisations that jumped on this was Truth in Action Ministries, whose spokesman, Jerry Newcombe, wrote a column detailing the event.
The only problem was that, according to Right Wing Watch, “the week before [Newcombe] published his column, the athlete admitted that he made the story up.”
So what was TAM’s response to this? Was it to admit that they made a mistake and correct the article? Of course not! That would require honesty and integrity.
Newcombe instead rewrote the article, completely taking out any reference to the event, and replaced it with a column about the Kountze Independent School District and the cheerleaders there who sued the school district to allow them to put Bible verses on the banners that their high school football team runs through before games.
Fortunately, more so unfortunately for Truth in Action Ministries, RWW obtained screencaps of the original article, which is available here.
As I stated in my original blog post about this, even if Hayes had been disqualified for his alleged “act of faith,” which he was not he was disqualified for his behaviour towards a referee, the disqualification was viewpoint neutral, as Hayes’ actions fell under “excessive celebration.”
Now, I personally don’t think that this rule should be there at all, but it is, and students should comply with it until it is removed or revised, regardless of their religion or what their choice of “excessive celebration” is. Christians do not get a special pass to break the rules just because they’re Christian.
Letting them break the rules, because they’re Christian and feel entitled to greater status and not equal status is why we have principles and teachers allowing students to skip class in order to pray.
This is one of those stereotypes that is not often thrown out there. When it is, most atheists don’t know how to respond, because it is such a ridiculous proposition to us.
I personally have only heard this once, or at least something similar to this claim, when it was directed at me. Someone said of me that I wanted to become God, that I wanted all the powers and knowledge of God.
Even though this particular instances was clearly meant as an insult, that’s not entirely untrue. Who would not want to be all-knowing and all-powerful? I would much rather have Spider-Man powers (shut up, I like Spider-Man), but I guess the powers of a god will do.
I believe this kind of misconception and misunderstanding of atheists arises from the mindset amongst certain Christians that cannot fathom not believing in a god, specifically their god. It is so obvious to them that they must rationalise it when they encounter people like me who are atheists.
Sometimes those rationalisations are somewhat irrational, and they come up with the most ridiculous of propositions, such as atheists thinking that they are God or that atheists just say they don’t believe in God, because they are angry at God for something.
Alise had a slightly differing explanation, which is still a very fitting one. She said, “Sometimes this is borne out of the idea that in order to be an atheist, one must assert an absolute knowledge that there is no God. If one conveys any kind of certainty in the lack of God, they can encounter the accusation that they are somehow omniscient and/or omnipotent. Ipso facto, atheists believe that they themselves are God.”
I am not certain that there is no god. I am equally uncertain about that as I am that there are no such things as Leprechauns though (no offense meant). I do not believe that there is a god or Leprechauns, and I live my life accordingly.
One could say that I “know” in a somewhat colloquial sense of the word, but when we get into epistemological philosophy, I revert to solipsism. The only thing that I can know with 100% certainty is that I exist. Outside of that though, I am not 100% certain of anything.
It really is a difficult misconception to respond to. We really do not see it that often, because most people are smart enough to get the basic gist of what an atheist is, even if they may still have some certain misconceptions about them.
Often when Christians make this claim, I hear them joking, or at least I think they are joking, about atheists believing in a “higher power” and how that higher power is themselves. That is actually a somewhat accurate depiction of LaVeyan Satanism, even if unintentional, and as we have already seen atheists and Satanists are often confused or seen as synonymous by certain people, so this might just be a legitimate misunderstanding.
I’m not an expert on LaVeyan Satanism, but as far as I’m aware they believe in and worship themselves. This is not to say that they think of themselves as gods, but their beliefs are very centric to the individual and about experiencing life and pleasure. In a sense, they “worship” themselves.
Simply put: I do not believe or think that I am a god, let alone the god of the Bible. I do not believe or claim to be omniscient or omnipotent, and I don’t know that there isn’t a god (at least, in the epistemological sense; we can argue colloquialisms later). I’m just a human being. Just one human being out of seven billion on this planet.
I don’t think I’m a very special or important human being at that. Sure, everyone is narcissistic to a certain extent, but I’m not to the point where I believe that I am God.
Nonetheless, anyone who were to make this claim about atheists is admitting that they simply don’t understand atheists or what atheism truly is, whether that be on purpose or not. It does not help our discussions and hinders our ability to have rational discourse when the Christian will throw out these baseless claims for no apparent reason whatsoever other than to insult atheists.
As always, be sure to read Alise’s wonderful post on the subject.
Next week’s Christian Guide to Atheists: Atheists refuse to accept that they sin.
This is probably one of the most disgusting stories I have ever read. Ever. Please, forgive me if I all of a sudden break out into a caps lock rage. I will try to remain as calm as possible though.
Back in 2008, Alicia Gali, a woman from Queensland, Australia, was working at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates. While at the hotel bar having a drink, she was drugged by her coworkers, who then proceeded to rape her. When Gali woke up the next day, she had severe bruising all over her body and four broken ribs.
That’s not the worst part of the story. I know. What really can be worse than being violently raped by multiple men after being drugged by them?
When she went to the police to report her gang-rape, they took this as a confession that she had taken part in premarital sex and had had alcohol, both of which are crimes in the UAE. She was sentenced to a year in prison for her “crimes.”
She was eventually pardoned in 2009 after serving eight months of the sentence. Oh, I’m so happy there’s a silver lining to this disgusting and awful story.
For the past few years, she has been dealing with the horrors of what happened to her. She has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, is unable to work, and has to borrow money from family and friends to pay for her counseling.
Thought this was an isolated incident? Think again!
There are many more cases that can be pointed to of woman being jailed, lashed, and/or even executed for being raped. The vast majority of these cases, if not literally all of them, happen in the Middle East or in other predominantly Muslim countries.
I simply cannot fucking express how fucking angry this fucking story fucking makes me. I cannot. Caps lock would not do it justice. No amount of caps lock, anger, or swearing can do it justice. No amount of anger can ever do Alicia Gali or other women throughout the Muslim world justice.
Fuck. This. Shit.
Fuck misogyny. Fuck sexism. Fuck rapists. Fuck Shariah Law. Fuck Muslims, more so fuck all people, who think women should be imprisoned, tortured, and killed for being raped. Fuck them.
I wish I had more to say and in more an articulate way, but that’s all that needs to be said, and this seems like the most appropriate way to say it: Fuck them.
Today in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire at liquor stores in the eastern district of the city. The attack occurred at peak business hours when people are coming home from work, killing 11 people in total and wounding five others.
Police say that the liquor stores in question had been rebuilt from a previous bombing attack that happened the year before.
According to ABC News, “Nobody claimed responsibility, although Islamic extremists have frequently targeted liquor stores in Iraq, where alcohol is available in most cities.”
On the ABC article real quick. Only about four paragraphs are dedicated to the actual attack. The rest of the article is about the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. For no reason, they’re talking about the PKK and their ceasefire with the government of Turkey. I don’t know if ABC is trying to connect the PKK to the attacks to paint them as terrorists, but there is no apparent logical reason as to why they are talking about this for the vast majority of the article. None whatsoever.
Now onto the actual attack. Enough bashing for now of the mainstream media and their incompetence.
Faisal Al Mutar, operator of the Global Secular Humanist Movement and Iraqi refugee, called this an example of “Islamofascism” and said that this happened, because alcohol “is banned in Islam.” So the obvious thing to do is drive in a convoy with machine guns and kill innocent people who are purchasing/selling alcohol.
It does seem to be a recurring theme amongst the religious fundamentalists in Iraq, and possibly other Muslim nations, to bomb liquor stores and shoot their patrons, because they see them as sinners in the eyes of God.
When American Atheists talked about this on their Facebook, they said that atheists should “remember this moment” when people ask why we can’t just live and let live. I completely agree. We can’t “live and let live” if people are not being allowed to live, because someone’s religion tells them that they should strap a bomb to their chests or put an AK-47 in their hands and march into the nearest crowded area.
This moment and so many others should serve as reminders as to why atheists, secularists, and humanists should stand up and speak out against the atrocities that are done in the name of religion. This moment is just one of the many examples that we can point to of religion causing harm. Because of religion, eleven more people have been murdered today. Let this serve as a reminder to everyone that assailants gunned down eleven innocent people, because they thought that some deity wanted them to.
A little more than two months ago, I posted a series of screencaps from the Timeline of Ray Comfort’s Facebook page. I’ve decided to return to that, and I have taken it upon myself to brave the Wall of Comfort again and trek through his Swamp of Stupid. Yes, I’m trying to make it sound like an epic quest. What can I say, I like World of Warcraft. For the Alliance!
To refresh our memories, here is probably my favourite one from the last post.
I can’t wait for what we’re in store for next. Here are just a couple of the most recent stupid things that Ray Comfort has said.
Yes, use Scripture to prove that Scripture is correct.
But I can twist that around at you, Ray. I probably should never spend any time trying to convince you that your god isn’t real, because you know it intuitively. You know, deep down inside, that there is no such thing as a god. You suppress the truth in order to make money off of willfully ignorant sheeple.
You didn’t really respond to his points. If someone says something about the immorality of the Bible, Christian teachings, or the actions taken by some Christians in the name of Christianity, then the only response that the Christian can have is, “Well, now why do you think that is immoral? Because God gave you a sense of morality.”
They can’t admit that the things God does or commands in the Bible are immoral. It betrays the very concept that the god of the Bible gave us a sense of good and evil that he himself does not follow. There response to that, I guess, would be that God can do what he likes, because he’s God. That is not a good enough answer and it never will be.
Ah, the good ol’ Kalam Cosmological Argument. How I missed you.
Ray is making the mistake of presupposing and interjecting God into the equation. William Lane Craig, who popularised this argument, never says “God,” but he does say that whatever caused the Universe must have been “causeless” and “beginningless,” which must obviously be a “god.” He also interjects “personal” to try and connect this thing, which is really a deistic god at best, to a more a more theistic grounding, specifically Christianity (even though the Kalam was first forumlated by a Muslim).
You’re mixing up descriptive and prescriptive laws, Ray. Gravity is a descriptive “law,” while something like the Ten Commandments or the Constitution are prescriptive laws. Law is the word used, in cases like gravity, for people to understand it better, but people like you instead use word games to “prove” their religious thinking as accurate.
Even though literally over 200,000 scientific and peer-reviewed papers have confirmed the validity of evolution. There are more papers validating evolution than there are for gravity, which I believe stands at around 85,000 papers. And gravity is not even all that accurate in certain instances, especially when you get up to the speed of light. That’s why we have Einstein’s General Relativity and then Quantum Mechanics and then String Theory.
Do I have to say anything? I don’t think I really do.
By your own logic, Ray, you would have to be omniscient to know that there is a god. But let me ask you this: do you believe that Leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus, or other fantastical creatures that are the stuff of legends exist? If yes, then all I can do is laugh at you. If no, then do you need to be omniscient to know that Leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus, or other fantastical creatures don’t exist?
I could easily say that everyone has “intuitive knowledge” that Leprechauns do exist, but people suppress the truth within them, because they are rebelling against Leprechauns.
Again, I could say that everyone has “intuitive knowledge” that there isn’t a god. Intuition is not proof of anything in the realm of science though. Feelings and personal experiences are not proof, especially of such an extraordinary claim.
But if God can give us “intuitive knowledge” of His existence and not affect our free will, then why could He not just come down and prove His existence to us definitively? According to your logic, people still rebel against Him who know He truly exists, so this wouldn’t affect our free will. Why not just do that?
You misunderstand what “pro-choice” means. A woman has the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion, not have one forced on her by a kidnapper. Murdering fetuses without the consent of the mother is not an abortion. You cannot compare the two.
You’re not even comparing apples and oranges at this point. You’re comparing apples and bricks.
Let me reemphasise that part:
So if you presuppose, which is just a fancy word for “preconceived notion” and “assume,” that the Gospels don’t contradict each other, then they don’t? But if an atheist were to presuppose, which we don’t, that the Gospels and Bible are wrong and your god isn’t real, then we’re close-minded people that are just rebelling against God.
I remember as a Christian reading through the Gospels and finding contradictions within them. I guess, I didn’t presuppose hard enough though.
I don’t even know how to respond to this…
If you want a great rebuttal to the “kinds” argument that many Creationists throw out there, read this great piece from Rachel Brown of Dogma Debate Radio.
So you’re saying that sin is sinful? No shit!
Then what about Jesus?
As you can see, I only got through ten days worth of posts. After that I just could not take the stupid anymore.
Often when arguing with theists, more so conservative Christians, atheists will appeal to the Constitution when the subject of separation of church and state comes up. They say, “The First Amendment lays out the separation of church and state when it says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…’”
That’s nice. Good to know that you understand elementary American government. Maybe the school systems haven’t failed us yet.
Does that really matter though? If the Supreme Court wants to rule as constitutional that prayers can be forced into public schools and students can be forced to read from the Bible, who really is to stop them?
Nothing stopped the Court from ruling that Japanese Internment Camps were constitutional in Korematsu v. United States (1944), even though they were clearly a violation of so many of our rights I can’t even begin to list them all.
This is why the Constitution needs to be left out in certain discussions. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says, especially since “respecting an establishment of religion” is so vague and up for interpretation by whomever is reading it and whatever their agenda is.
In discussions with people, and maybe even in court cases, it needs to be laid out why separation of church and state is a good idea, whether or not it’s in the Constitution. Yes, it’s in the Constitution, which is how we get the courts on our side, but the case needs to be made why the government would have a compelling interest as to why they should keep religion out of government and government funded schools.
I don’t care what the Establishment Clause says. I care that students in government funded schools are not being forced to pray or read from the Bible. That’s a good idea.
I care that our government is not forcing religion, any religion, onto anyone through things like the National Day of Prayer or having invocations at town hall meetings. That’s a good idea.
I care that our government cannot erect monuments to Christianity or any other religion with tax-payer money. That’s a good idea.
Whether or not the Establishment Clause was in the Constitution, I would still support a complete separation of church and state, because that’s a good idea. Having a separation between church and state protects everyone, not just atheists, which is why Christians, Muslims, Jews, and everyone else no matter their religion or religious beliefs should be in favour of it too.
It seems that Christians as of late have stepped up the persecution complex. They have always had one, but ever since the government started not bending over backwards for them (as much), as well as the wider public, they have been screaming, “Persecution!” and “War on Religion!” every chance they can get.
When the Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale (1962) that public schools could not force students to pray and in Abington School District v. Schempp (1963) that students could not be forced to read the Bible, the Christian right believed that their rights were being taken away.
If forcing children to take part in their religion is a “right,” then yes, that right was taken away. And that’s a good thing. If the Court ruled that about Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Satanism, or any other religion, Christians would be jumping for joy over secularism.
But when it affects their religion and their ability to invade public schools, then they’re obviously being persecuted by the godless liberals who want to enforce Shariah Law (that’s a somewhat paraphrased sentiment that some conservative Christians have expressed in recent years, like Newt Gingrich).
A common thing we will see, or at least I have, is the shirt that says, “This Shirt is Illegal in 51 Countries,” and it has a nice little cross on the front and a giant one on the back with a Bible verse.
Yeah? Well, a shirt that says “Atheist” is illegal in probably just as many, if not more, countries. In fact, in seven countries a person can be put to death for being an atheist. You’re not special, Christians.
I think I’m going to make a shirt that says the same thing but has an atheist A on it (copyright!) and make every atheist wear them everywhere to annoy Christians and let them know that they are not special and not the victim of any kind of special persecution anywhere in the world that is not also, if not exclusively, shown towards gays and/or atheists, least of all in America.
This sort of sentiment that Christians are enduring some kind of special persecution, in American public schools no less, was embodied in a recently released video, called “The Thaw,” made by a fundamentalist Christian organisation by the name 0f Reach America. The video, which stars only children and teenagers, is all about how Christian students are apparently being persecuted in public schools.
I made a response video to this, which is the first legitimate video I’ve made in a long time, where I completely demolished the idea that Christian students are being persecuted in public schools and that Christianity is being “frozen out” of the public square. JT Eberhard also did a brilliant response to the same video over on his blog.
Nonetheless, there are even more examples that can be pointed to.
In a small town in Oklahoma, a high school student recently complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation that all of the classrooms in his public high school were displaying the Ten Commandments. When the FFRF contacted them and said that the district could be sued if they did not comply with the request, the town of Muldrow, Oklahoma went into full persecution mode.
In response to the brave student’s actions, the student’s sister was harassed at school and the student himself has been shunned by his school and confronted by a linebacker on the school’s football team.
According to the Huffington Post:
Multiple petitions have been signed by hundredsof people, pray-ins have been held at the school, pro-Christian messages lit up Twitter with the hashtag #FightForFaith, and church officials and politicians have railed against the request to remove the religious postings.
The school said that if students wore the shirts they would be asked to turn them inside out, which probably just added fuel to the persecution fire.
Pastor John Moore of Muldrow First Baptist Church said (emphasis mine), “It’s Christianity under attack. It was promised in the scripture [that this would happen].”
They want this to happen. They want to think that they are being persecuted, even though they obviously are not, because they believe that Jesus told them that this would happen and that this would be a sign of the End Times.
The thing is though, they are not being persecuted. They are being told to respect the same laws and Constitution that everyone else is told to. Christianity does not get a special pass to be forced onto students just because they think they have the right to force it onto them.
They think equality means persecution, because they’re so used to be the favoured class in America. They’re used to having a dominance over public life, politics, and culture in America. When that preferential treatment is slowly stripped away and replaced with equality, they are dragged kicking and screaming through the Courts, crying persecution.
The students in “The Thaw” video kept saying that they are being bullied by other students for being Christian. No, they’re being bullied. Being Christian has nothing to do with it, although that may be what the bullies are targeting (statistically speaking though, those bullies are probably Christian too). Gay kids and kids who are perceived to be gay are bullied every day to the point where they commit suicide. Atheist students are bullied. Muslim students are bullied. I was bullied for being bisexual, for being an atheist, and for being effeminate. I had a fucking Bible thrown at my head in a public school!
In the cases of Jessica Ahlquist in Rhode Island, Damon Fowler in Louisiana, Matthew LaClair in New Jersey, and so many other students, including the student in Muldrow, the towns all believed that they were being persecuted and that their rights to believe in what they wanted were being taken away, because one student stood up for what was right and stood up against the majority.
In all of these cases, they believed that because they could not force religion into public schools anymore, that their right to freedom of religion was being taken away. The townspeople, students of the school, and people all across the country threatened these students with bodily harm, rape, and even death. But the Christians are the persecuted ones.
Wanting the government to treat everyone equally through a policy of neutrality is not persecution. Wanting equality is not persecution. Wanting what is right is not persecution.
If you think Christians are persecuted in America, then you should try not being one. Try being the minority. Try being the minority that is literally the most hated minority in the United States, more than gays or Muslims or anyone else. Try being us for one day. Try living in our shoes.
Most atheists were at one point in time religious. We’ve lived in your shoes. We used to think just like you. We know what it’s like to be you. You have no idea what it’s like to be us. Try it. I dare you.
If you would like to hear these points flushed out more, I have a talk called “Step Into the Shoes of an Atheist,” one of the many talks I can give at secular conferences or for secular groups, though I plan on making this particular one a talk that I give to churches and interfaith groups mostly instead of atheist and secular groups.